The foundation of the Benedictine abbey Caunes-Minervois was the work of Aniane, Saint Benoît d'Aniane's friend, at the end of the 8th century. Originally under the direct protection of the King of France, the monastery later passed into the hands of the Count of Barcelona, before ending up as a possession of the Trencavel family who decided to renounce their rights in 1195.
During the Crusade against the Albigensians, several times, the Abbot of Caunes welcomed the Pope's representatives who came to preach the Catholic orthodoxy. In 1227, Pierre Isarn, the Cathar bishop of the Carcasses area was burned at the stake at Caunes.
The 13th and 14th centuries were marked by power struggles between secular and religious authorities, and by prosperity for the monastery whose members increased from about fifteen to about thirty.
The establishment, in 1467, of a commendam whereby a manager took over the running of the abbey, signalled the beginning of the decline of monastic values at Caunes. It was only at the beginning of the 17th century that a series of reforms was instigated by the Abbot Jean d'Alibert. In particular, he restored the buildings and re-built the abbey's residence. Then, the congregation of Saint-Maur took possession of the abbey in 1663 and rebuilt the moastic buildings. The abbey became state property in 1791, with the exception of the church which became property of the municipality.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.